For the last ten days, we have brought attention to the EpiPen pricing issue, as we have heard from parents around the country who are stunned with the new price of a product that has been around for 50 years, especially as they head back to school and find themselves needing to buy multiple sets to keep their children safe. Like the single mom who just shared this image: a $925 price tag for one set of EpiPens with coupon and insurance.
As we began to shine a light on this issue, images flooded in when we asked parents to share pictures of their receipts. As one mom wrote, “I thought I was the only one.” She isn’t, and with the food allergy epidemic in full force, she is joined by millions of parents who share her concern.
How can a parent keep a child safe if they can no longer afford this life saving device? What cost-benefit analysis is being done by the company to justify the skyrocketing price tags – an almost 500% increase in just 6 years? And what value are they putting on the lives of Americans when they run their models, testing the price elasticity of their signature product that accounts for 40% of their revenue?
We have countless stories now, but here are two real-life stories of families impacted dramatically by the price-gouging and profiteering practices of Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Their pricing practices are placing the life-saving EpiPen out of reach of many families. Lives are in danger for the sake of share price and executive compensation. Perhaps the most trying issue in all of this is that the U.S. is the only country in the world where this price-gouging is happening. We also have one of the highest rates of food allergies.
“IMPORTANT: Please note that recent news of EpiPen® price increases announced by Mylan, the US distributor of EpiPen®, apply to the US market only. They do not impact Canada (where EpiPen® is distributed by Pfizer Canada). In Canada, medicine prices are regulated and price increases are strictly controlled. As such, the price Canadians pay for EpiPen® has remained fairly consistent for several years.”
The company in the U.S. will argue that insurance covers these jaw-dropping costs, as well as a coupon that they offer. This statement is incomplete at best, as families with high deductibles find themselves paying the full price of between $600-800 while families around the world pay anywhere between $58 and $98. Families that don’t have insurance are simply out of luck, and many are praying that their child or loved one does not encounter a hidden ingredient in a meal that could end a life.
Read these stories and use this link to contact your representatives in Washington. It is time to put and end to pharma price gouging and profiteering.
See the gallery of images at the end of this article for more evidence of Mylan’s deplorable greed.
Elizabeth Bostic’s Story
I am the mother of a 9 year old with peanut and tree-nut allergies, a history of anaphylaxis, and asthma. We are a single income family with a high deductible insurance, and have watched the price of EpiPens rise for years. We need a set for home and a set for school. The last time I went to pick up my daughter’s EpiPenJR I was shocked when the price had shot up once again in less than a year. The price went up about $200 from the last time I had purchased them. At well over $700 a box at my local Publix pharmacy, I declined to purchase the Epipens. Even with the Mylan coupon the price was still over $600 a pack. I searched for a cheaper option and found that the only other option was the generic version of Adrenaclick. Only one local pharmacy would order one, and it was still expensive at over $500.
There have been times where a purse, belt, or bag with the EpiPens in it has been left accidentally in a hot car, and at over $600 a pack to replace the EpiPens, I hate to admit that I have chosen to forgo replacing the EpiPens. If the cost of the EpiPens were more affordable, I would have replaced them right away to be 100% certain of their effectiveness. My daughter is learning to be responsible and self carry her medications while out and about, a simple mistake, a little purse left in a hot car after a day out, or a lost Epi belt, is a very costly mistake, and discourages me from allowing her to carry her medications when I should be encouraging it at her age.
Jennifer DiMercurio’s Story
My husband left his job of seven years in October 2014. His father had to undergo Chemotherapy for his Leukemia and his job was preparing the next big wave of lay-offs. We decided it would be best for him to resign and for our family to take a trip to San Diego to see his parents. Once we returned, knowing my father-in-law was stable, my husband began a new job search. We had utilized Cobra insurance for several months and were looking to get our own policy.
We began the new policy in March 2016. We were paying more per month and our deductible was very high. Our son, Liam is 7 and has severe food allergies to the top 8 (- fish + sesame) as well as severe eczema. We have had to administer his Epi Pen on 8 different occasions. The medicine has saved his life and turned around some extremely severe reactions.
In May 2015 we had to administer epinephrine due to a reaction to a generic Benedryl. At the time we purchased 2 more Epi Pens. They used to let us replace the used one, but now they required a purchase of a 2 pack every time. We had to pay around $250.00 with the discount (the $0 Co-pay card). We had never paid that amount before but we knew our new insurance policy was different. My husband had just started a new job and wasn’t receiving insurance.
In October 2015 Liam had an exposure to an unknown allergen and had to receive another EpiPen. This time the Epi Pens were closer to $400. We still had one of his recent refills, plus another pen from his pack before. We decided we didn’t need to get more at that time. I homeschool my kids so they are with me all the time and we could manage safely with 2 EpiPens. My concern would be purchasing more when the old one expired in a few months, especially at the current price.
My daughter Sofia is 9, while without any allergies, has to receive a daily injection (6 days a week) for Growth Hormone Deficiency. Her levels are so low; we have never had any trouble getting her medication. The treatment is necessary for her health and strength. Thankfully despite the high cost of her medication they send it, never making us pay upfront. The doctors are always looking for ways to help, knowing how important it is. We have been fortunate to receive assistance from CVS/Caremark as well.
On Halloween I experienced my first severe reaction. I had previous allergic reactions to latex and have suffered seasonal environmental allergies my whole life. This time a washable paint from Crayola (later I noticed the disclaimer of the possible latex gloves worn during manufacturing). I went to the ER and received a prescription for my own EpiPens. The price for 2 Epi Pens was now up to $465. My husband had taken on another job with insurance, in addition to his current job. Unfortunately, the probationary period was lengthy, so we were still on our own personal medical insurance policy. We would be until May 2016. The increase also seemed to coincide with the recent recall of Auvi-Q. The insurance company didn’t care if we needed the EpiPens. Deductibles had to be fulfilled first. Even if that meant not getting your medication.
The weekend before Christmas 2015 I had another severe reaction. I had to self-administer my EpiPen. I felt instant relief. My throat was closing and I was getting ready to pass out. We had creatively pull the money together for the first 2 Epi Pens. Our savings was depleted and we now had growing medical bills for the ER visits, in addition to our usual specialist visits.
Now we were faced with the dilemma, risk having only 1 EpiPen for me or borrowing money from someone to get another set of 2. Thankfully someone was kind enough to help us out and I had 3 EpiPens. This turned out to be a great decision because two weeks later I needed to give myself another EpiPen. I had no idea what we were going to do if we needed any more. We were out of resources. I had begged my primary care doctor to help. He was in disbelief when he saw the rabidly increasing epinephrine prices. However, he could do nothing. I asked my new allergist if she knew she could provide any help. She gave me an EpiPen $0 Co-Pay card. This was not much help and I certainly didn’t get my Epi Pens for free. In fact, the assistant at the pharmacist counter thought there was a price mistake and went to talk to the pharmacist. No one could do anything. I began hearing about prices reaching even higher for some folks.
I have seen the medication save my son’s life numerous times and experienced the lifesaving medication myself, twice. It’s not an option. Thankfully we don’t need more than 2 EpiPens per person because I homeschool. I cannot imagine with school quickly approaching what some families are going to do. Especially if there is more than one person that needs the epinephrine in a household. When my daughter needs her medication we receive it and people bend over backwards to make it available. With severe food and other allergies this is not the case. Something has to be done. We need at least 2 EpiPens at all times. I shudder to think of children and adults walking around unequipped for a severe reaction.